The House today voted 80-7 to pass HB 1916 to change the name of Confederate Flag Day, observed the Saturday before Easter, to Arkansas Day.
Rep. Austin McCollum (R-Bentonville) said this would not affect anyone’s right to fly the Confederate flag. But he said the bill was passed during the 1957 desegregation crisis. It was, in other words, a symbol of resistance to racial equality. (As the flag still is.)
Rep. Marcus Richmond, one of several Republican supporters, said: “It does not erase history. It is not about history. It is about changing something that happened for the wrong reason.”
Not to worry, Rebels. The Arkansas legislature sends ample signals daily about where the Confederacy stands, both specifically and in broader contexts. Heading to final passage is legislation intended to make it difficult, if not impossible, to remove Confederate monuments from public places, including city-owned property. The memorials to the fight to preserve slavery on the Capitol grounds can’t be moved without legislative approval.
Arkansas still has a memorial day on the 2nd Saturday in October for perhaps the most famous defender of slavery (and an abusive slave owner himself) — Robert E. Lee.
One Republican who supported this bill, Rep. Justin Gonzalez, said he wouldn’t have supported a bill to remove the Confederate
flag star from the state flag.
The bill goes to the Senate.